Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

WEB NEWS

Russian aid convoy: Mission accomplished?

Read more

WEB NEWS

Actor Orlando Jones lauches 'Bullet Bucket Challenge'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Macron Economics'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Macron-economics, the former banker turned minister

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The capital of sex, drugs, alcohol, trash and trashy tourism'

Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, militants of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande puts young ex-banker in top economy post

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Liberia sacks ministers who left amid Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • American journalist held captive in Syria arrives in US

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

  • 'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says

    Read more

  • Far-right ‘Russian Jihad’ fighters cross into Ukraine

    Read more

  • American 'Islamic State fighter' killed in Syria

    Read more

  • The ‘war’ at the heart of France’s ruling party

    Read more

  • Rebels 'shoot down' UN helicopter in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Air France pilots threaten September strike

    Read more

  • WHO seeks stricter regulation for e-cigarettes

    Read more

Al Qaeda weapon expert presumed dead

Latest update : 2008-07-29

Al Qaeda chemical weapons expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar is reported to have died in a US missile strike in Pakistan Monday. The US accuse the Egyptian-born Midhat Mursi of running terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda weapons expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar has long embodied western fears that the terror network could get its hands on chemical or biological munitions.
   
The shadowy Egyptian, whom Pakistani officials said was believed killed in an air strike on Monday, had a five-million-dollar reward for his death or capture because of his activities in the field.
   
Known in militant circles by the nom du guerre Abu Khabab al-Masri -- al-Masri means "The Egyptian" in Arabic -- the United States describes him as a "an explosives expert and poisons trainer working on behalf of al Qaeda."
   
Born in Egypt in 1953, he studied for a science degree in his homeland before becoming involved in Islamic radicalism.
   
He served as a trainer at al Qaeda's Derunta training camp in Afghanistan during the group's early days in the 1990s, where he trained "hundreds" of militants, according to the US government Rewards for Justice programme.
   
One of them was reportedly Richard Reid, the British "shoe bomber" serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a transatlantic jet in 2001.
   
"Since 1999, he has distributed training manuals that contain instructions for making chemical and biological weapons. Some of these training manuals were recovered by US forces in Afghanistan," the programme's website says.
   
But he has proved a difficult man to track down despite his notoriety.
   
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced in 2006 that Umar had been killed in an air strike in the Bajaur tribal region that targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy.
   
But al Qaeda always denied that he had died, and last year reports began to emerge from the South Waziristan tribal region that he was alive and well.
   
"I met him several times at the bazaar in Wana (the main town in South Waziristan). We all knew him as the Egyptian," a resident of the area told AFP on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
   
Further confusion arose when the US government admitted in 2006 that the official rewards website featuring his photo had used the wrong picture for a year and a half.
   
The picture was replaced by a silhouette for a time and now features an apparently dated passport-type photo of a man with a long black beard who appears to be in his twenties.
   
But Pakistani officials said that his importance to al Qaeda was not in doubt.
   
"He has been a key al Qaeda planner and very influential in the hierarchy," a senior security official told AFP.
   
"He is a very close confidante of Zawahiri and actively involved in al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Date created : 2008-07-28

COMMENT(S)